I’m not the first person, nor will I be the last, to say that this has not been the finest hour for the government of Sint Maarten. And, at this point, there are still so many more questions than answers. One thing is clear, the normal bureaucracy that typically encompasses the political process must not stand in the way of progress for people who are trying to recover from a catastrophic natural disaster.
Sadly, the bureaucratic nature of government has impeded progress and it continues to do so as we are nearly three weeks away from when Irma hit.
The Parliament of Sint Maarten met today for the first time since Hurricane Irma and, as you can imagine, there was a lot of emotion and questions. I’ve attached the video of the entire meeting below if you want to watch all or some of it. It’s definitely worthwhile.
Before we get to the video, there’s something I would like to touch on first.
When the government of Sint Maarten released a notice on Friday that they had selected a committee that was going to draft the National Recovery Plan, and gave absolutely no details about the plan, I was quite confounded. My response was to spend a few hours researching and writing a post with a simple and straight forward analysis that included a possible approach to getting the recovery rolling (you can read that post here).
The point of that post is simple: Action needs to be taken to address the situation on Sint Maarten immediately. A formal, bureaucratic committee should not take 2-3 months to put a plan together before things get done. It is possible, and prudent, to put an initial plan into place immediately that will focus on getting the tourism industry back up and running, stimulating the economy, and providing humanitarian services and shelter to those in need.
You’ll see in the video that a lot of the Members of Parliament are concerned about the things that have happened on the island following Irma, as well as the things that haven’t happened since. Following are just a few of the items that were brought up by members of the Parliament.
- When will the cruise post and airport be up and running for commercial service?
- When will hotels that weren’t damaged be able to operate?
- What is the plan to get tourism going again?
- What is the general recovery plan?
- Comments on insurance coverage or the lack of it on the island
- Comments on the overall dire situation on the island
- Need to enforce building codes for the rebuild and placing an emphasis on hurricane proofing buildings
- Monetary policies by the central bank to stimulate the economy, lending rates
- The island is in survival mode
As you can imagine, there were a lot of questions about what was done to prepare for the hurricane and whether there was a disaster recovery plan in place.
Here’s the video. It actually starts around the 31 minute mark so you’ll want to fast forward it.